Developing new approaches to supporting young people who arrive under the humanitarian settlement program.

On October 2011, there were 6068 young people who were humanitarian arrivals aged between 12 and 24 years, and the year leading up to 2011 had seen a significant increase in the numbers of Unaccompanied Humanitarian Minors (young people under the age of 18 years who had arrived as either orphans or without an accompanying adult relative). Australian law states that unaccompanied humanitarian youth arrivals are the responsibility of the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship (acting as a guardian) until the age of 21 years.

After much advocacy for an appropriate program to support these young people, CMY tended for and was awarded funding by the Federal Government to deliver a pilot project, testing out a new model of targeted, intensive support for 16 and 17 year old unaccompanied minors. With the aim of supporting these young people to strengthen their ability to live independently and build a positive future in Australia, the program offered supported accommodation, together with a broad range of supports to meet their needs. In its first year of operation, the vast majority of participants were young men from Afghanistan. Following an independent evaluation of the program by the Youth Research Centre, Melbourne University, CMY received further funding from the Federal Government to refine the pilot model and to deliver the program until 2019. From 2018, CMY continued to apply their expertise in supporting the settlement of newly arrived young people through the Envision program, working with young people through a close, case management approach and also continuing to develop good practice in the broader services sector in relation to supporting young people’s settlement.

Alongside this intensive support, CMY also initiated innovative new group-work programs with newly arrived young people in 2011 with the funding support of philanthropic trusts. These programs enabled a gender specific response to supporting young people’s settlement. The Girlspace Project engaged young women in Dandenong and Casey and was designed to be accessible to young women who had not participated in other youth or women’s programs, had limited English language skills, mobility and free time. The Boyspace program engaged newly arrived young men in Dandenong through sport and recreation activities, building their connectedness, life skills, team work skills, and improving their mental and physical health.

As is CMY’s practice, they drew upon the insights they were developing into the settlement needs of young people, to inform their research, sector development and advocacy work. In 2012, CMY shared their findings with other services and governments, releasing the report ‘Settling or surviving? Unaccompanied Young Adults aged 18 – 25 years’.